A law for the secret police – China’s latest top news


Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on June 28, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

400 kilometers per hour on the road to rejuvenation

China’s state media is reporting that a new model of domestically designed high-speed trains — the CR400AF — has gone into operation this week. The new trains can reach speeds of 400 kilometers per hour.

Until now, all of China’s high-speed trains were given the name Harmony (和谐 héxié) after the most enduring catchphrase of former president Hu Jintao 胡锦涛: “harmonious society” (和谐社会 héxié shèhuì). But all new CR400AF trains will be named Rejuvenation (复兴 fùxīng), a nod to Xi Jinping’s slogan “The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” (中华民族伟大复兴 zhōnghuá mínzú wěidà fùxīng).

If you’re a Chinese-reading train nerd, you might enjoy this Sina infographic on the innovations in the new train design.

A law to govern China’s secret police

China has passed a new intelligence law after what Reuters calls “an unusually brief round of discussions.” Quartz calls it the first law “that governs China’s secret police system” comprising the Ministry of National Security (国安 guó ān) and the Internal Security Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security (国保 guó bǎo).

The law does not seem intended to change the way China’s security agents operate, but rather to provide a legal basis for what the spies are already doing. For example, as per the translation by the excellent China Law Translate, the new law empowers “staff of national intelligence work” to:

  • Enjoy transit facilitation upon presentation of relevant identification;
  • Enter relevant restricted areas and venues; may learn from and question relevant institutions, organizations, and individuals; and read or collect relevant files, materials, or items;
  • Requisition state organs’, organizations’, or individuals’ transportation or communications tools, premises, and buildings;
  • Ask organs such as customs and entry-exit border inspection to provide facilitation such as exemptions from inspection.

The law also allows for people suspected of leaking or obstructing national intelligence work to be detained for 15 days and charged with a crime if appropriate.

Hong Kong handover 20th anniversary rap video

With preparation underway for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover back to China on July 1, Chinese state media is turning on the propaganda taps. Xinhua News Agency has published an extensive minisite to mark the occasion, and a rap song animated music video (Chinese version, abridged English version) about the glories of “one country, two systems” which allows “1.3 billion people to carry out socialism” while Hong Kong “maintains its former system.”

The rap song is the latest in a recent series of goofy propaganda videos from various parts of the Chinese government, but as we noted yesterday, “one country, two systems” is a hard sell for Hong Kong’s youth — cheesy rap videos are unlikely to change that.

In related news:

  • CNN says China is making “its military more visible” in Hong Kong after many years of maintaining a low key presence.
  • The South China Morning Post reports that a PLA Navy flotilla led by China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, will stop in Hong Kong for four days during the handover anniversary celebrations.

Qinghai Province runs for a week on renewable energy only

Qinghai, the central Chinese province that sits mostly on the Tibetan Plateau, used only renewable energy sources — wind, solar, and hydro — to generate all of its electricity needs from June 17 to 23. Xinhua News Agency says that during that time, the province used 1.1 billion kilowatt hours, equivalent to 535,000 tons of coal. According to a spokesperson (in Chinese) from China’s electricity provider State Grid, the week-long trial of zero emissions electricity generation was conducted to “lead and implement environmental preservation.”